A favorite bedtime storybook from my childhood was one called “The
Bear That Wasn’t.” It tells the story of a bear who goes into hibernation one fall and during his winter slumber, a huge factory is built over and around his cave so that when he wakes up in spring and heads for the cave opening, he is startled to find himself in this factory. Totally confused he encounters a foreman who asks who he is and his reply is simply “I’m a Bear”. The foreman tells him “You are not a bear; you are a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.” He is taken to the office of the foreman’s supervisor, then to a manager, the manager’s manager and the Vice President until he finally reaches the office of the President and is finally convinced of what he has been told is true despite his knowing otherwise. He is then put to work in the factory, convinced by repetition that he wasn’t a bear in the first place. When the time comes for the factory to shut down he tries to seek his identity as a bear in a zoo, in a circus and so on but eventually he gets cold and finds the cave and entering it, feels comfortable to settle down as the bear he always was.
You probably may be able to see where this post is going in relation to my late re-discovery that had been drummed out of me since childhood that I was a boy because I was born with the outward symbols of one. Like the bear in the story, I too, had this notion of being a girl hammered out of me by the persistent reminder that I was a boy and later a man and that I needed to “man up” and accept my rightful place in the world of men. It took over 50 years to re-discover my true essence as it was able to finally emerge and I began living my life as I always thought it should have been, the way it always was, as the girl I was told I wasn’t.
This bedtime story is both a fable on the power of a repetitive assault at our most vulnerable, and the assumption “they all say it is true, therefore it must be true.” It is also a fable about how, when placed in a similarly vulnerable position such as the bear feeling cold, we are able as humans to re-discover and call upon our true essence.
So it is with me and it took 62 years as that “Girl Who Wasn’t” to re-discover my own true essence that I had drummed out of me since I was a “little girl.” Thank heavens that life of pain and sorrow is finally over and I was finally able to fully embrace my true essence to that which I’ve always been.